Planting Roots has a mission to impact military women with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we are military women and we love Jesus. But who are we (military women) really and how do we join together to impact our world?
Let’s start with the first question: Who are we really? We, as military women, are actually made up of two groups. Our first group, women in uniform, is made up of both active duty and reserve ladies. As of 2012, active duty women numbered approximately 202,000 and reserve women numbered approximately 154,000. Seventy-five percent of those are between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five. Forty percent (almost half!) are under twenty-five years old. One other interesting factor, 6.3% of the married active duty force is in a dual-military marriage, which means both husband and wife wear a uniform. In the reserve component, the dual-military numbered 2.6%.
The second group, military wives, can be broken down into active duty wives and reserve wives. In 2012, active duty wives numbered approximately 687,000. In the reserve component, wives numbered approximately 338,000. This does not include retiree wives who are still connected to the military or desire to connect.
The total of all of these women together numbers approximately 1,381,000. There are a lot of us! We also live around the world. In the United States or U.S. Territories, 86.5% of our active duty force and 99.2% or our reserve force live. Many of us live in areas across the ocean, including East Asia (7.1% – active duty), Europe (5.8% – active duty), and the rest covering North Africa, ships afloat, or other remote locations around the world.
Of our total force, approximately 235,000 state that they attend church once a week with 460,000 of them professing Christianity as their faith. Our religious affiliation is also interesting. Of the entire United States military, 46% profess to be Christian, according to research done by the Population Reference Bureau. According to a Military Times Poll, only 23.5% of the military say they attend any kind of church service once a week and 18% say they never go. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. Bottom line, with current operational tempo of our military and growing need for Jesus, we have quite a mission field.
A few months ago, Ginger Harrington and I attended the Flagship Conference put on by the Military Missions Network. I was able to be part of a team that looked at women’s ministry in the military community. Our goal was to answer a few questions:
1. What is happening in women’s military ministry with regard to Chaplains, Chapels, and PWOC? Churches? Para-Church organizations? Women’s networks?
2. How is the military changing with regard to women and what adjustments need to be made in women’s ministry?
3. How can all these ministries work together? How can we impact our world?
I worked with ladies who are involved in para-church ministries (Cru Military, Officers Christian Fellowship, Navigators, Christian Military Wives Fellowship, Wives of Faith, Faith Deployed, and Cadence), denominational military ministries, local church military ministries, and PWOCs (Protestant Women of the Chapel Ministries). Our group sent out these questions to many that we knew. The responses were interesting. We found some similarities across the board and then some differences based on personal experiences. I thought I might share what we discovered and then maybe you all would be kind enough to share your thoughts as well.
Over the next two weeks, I will share the answers to our questions that we found and would love to hear what you have experienced where you are and ideas you have for women’s ministry in the military world. For all of you who comment, question, or share ideas, I will add your name to a drawing that will be done on January 19th. Please feel free to share with your friends and those you know in ministry. I would love to hear their ideas, questions, and concerns as well!
It should be exciting!